x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

More than 2,000 Pakistani inmates at UAE prisons to go home

Most of those set to return home to complete their sentences are in jail for minor offences such as entering the Emirates illegally.

DUBAI // More than 2,000 Pakistanis serving time in UAE prisons are expected to be repatriated by the end of the year.

Most of those set to return home to complete their sentences are in jail for minor offences such as entering the Emirates illegally.

Pakistan's ambassador in Abu Dhabi, Jamil Ahmed Khan, said the transfer would take place as soon as the UAE had signed the treaty on prisoner transfers.

"Although it is difficult to give an exact date for when they will go back it would be fair to say we expect the treaty to be ratified by the end of the year," Mr Khan said.

"The Pakistan government has already ratified the agreement and so we are waiting for the UAE to follow suit. The reason it has taken so long is that each individual emirate must agree to it before it can be approved."

Mr Khan said about 1,336 Pakistanis were in jail in Abu Dhabi and about 864 in Dubai.

"Under article 19 of the treaty all prisoners, excluding those who have been convicted of money laundering, drug trafficking and murder, are eligible to be transferred to their home country," he said. "Although some of the people do not have passports or documents, we check their identities to make sure they are eligible."

Those transferred to Pakistan will complete their sentences in prisons close to their families.

Talks between the UAE and Pakistan on a prisoner exchange deal had been going since 2010.

The Pakistan community regularly organises collections to pay prisoners' fines to allow them to complete their sentence.

Last year the community helped to free 25 prisoners. A transfer plan for female prisoners is expected to be announced this year.

nhanif@thenational.ae